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Game Info:

Pirate Code
Developed By: Circuit Hive
Published By: Circuit Hive
Released: Apr 24, 2018
Available On: macOS, Windows
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: Single Player
Price: $19.99

Thank ye Circuit Hive for sending us a review code!

Ahoy, matey! Let us sail the high seas and embark on a grand adventure in hopes of finding rare booty! Get all of yer gear, weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen. We got work to do! Ye know of any good sea shanties to past the time?

Pirate Code, created by Circuit Hive, features pirates, of course! It is of the turn-based strategy genre created by one clever lad. Some of us are rather smart after all; we’re not all barnacle-heads! The arena of choice takes place on a hexagonal grid. There are four types of factions that ships belong to: We have the standard cannon-firing ships seen in every piece of pirate media, special deep-sea diving ships that use torpedoes for high damage while having low health, mechanical clockwork ships that trade power for defense, and ships with a serpent motif that use fire for potentially more damage. Sea warfare is rather different from others as positioning is very important. Each ship has the opportunity to move and attack in a turn (or even another action such as fishing and supply gathering). Attacks can only be performed at certain ranges usually being two to four spaces, depending on the ship. Some ships can even attack multiple targets.

Just because ye happen to be outgunned and outnumbered, doesn’t mean ye can’t win. Aye, tactics and careful positioning play a crucial role for a rather simple bout. Any boat in your fleet can be assigned a captain, and depending on the captain commanding the ship, said ship will have different abilities that can also level up for stronger effects. A quick wit and usage of abilities can bring ye victory for most battles, but do not get too cocky when the situation is in reverse. The tides can turn very quickly in their favor and a simple misplay can put ye at a severe disadvantage. Morale plays a very important role as every boat has their own separate morale, which can be raised by certain abilities or by attacking and sinking ships. Above a certain amount of morale, boats deal extra damage. Morale can also be lowered by losing ships, and if a ship has too low of a morale, they will surrender, no matter how many ships are left. Keeping your mates in high spirits can mean all the difference between a date with Davy Jones’ Locker and, well, living!

Pirate Code
Highlights:

Strong Points: A low skill floor, and a high skill ceiling; large variety of ships with interesting attack patterns
Weak Points: Rough beginning; stability issues; very few graphical and audio options
Moral Warnings: Pirate warfare; small mentions of a sea goddess

Speaking of captains, our first captain goes by the name of Rogue Swanson, a charming lass with great ambition. She is the daughter of the legendary sea dog, Jabber Swanson. As her father is a very important man, she goes around defending the helpless from other pirates. Her strong morals have gained the respect and admiration from many. In the beginning, Rogue is the only captain available, but as the journey progresses, ye can gain more captains to use in battle. When not partaking in sinking bilge-sucking scallywags, ye can pass the time with fishing or botany to gain resources to complete missions, or sell them to gain gold.

Fighting is not the only thing pirates are good at! Of course fighting is still rather important as every victory gains liberation points, which can unlock stores on the islands or discounts on items. Even though battles are controlled all through the mouse buttons, the overworld is operated via WASD. The overworld is used to traverse from island to island and to come across other pirates. Each island also has special battles that grant an increased percentage of gold gained.

There are about five chapters in the game, but chapter 1 can be rough for some. Chapter 1 all takes place in one section of the map, and ye only have a very small selection of ships at your command while the enemies have a wider variety. Gold is also required for a whole load of options, and gold is a rather rare resource to come across in the early game. Be sure to save often, as a defeat sends ye to the last save. Most of the missions in chapter 1 amount to fetch quests as well, so it can also get repetitive too. Luckily, Pirate Code starts to pick up massively after the beginning slog, as the later chapters span across the other sections, the fights become more engaging and gold becomes easier to obtain.

The world of Pirate Code is filled with color. Bright, vibrant uses of color, and (important) characters have character art similar to a painting. The environment has variety to it, but since there are no graphical settings, some parts can look rather blurry, especially in the overworld.

Shiver me timbers! The sound and music are well done! There may not be a huge amount of musical pieces, but the score is booming, giving off that naval warfare feel in every battle, and even simply traveling the overworld. Hearing the cheers of the crew, the booms of the cannon, and the smooth soundtrack really makes me feel like a pirate.

Pirate Code
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 76%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 93%
Violence - 7.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Since Pirate Code stars pirates, there is nothing wrong morally. Pirates are upstanding citizens that all landlubbers should look up to and be inspired by! Okay, enough jesting from me. Pirate warfare is the name of the game, so sinking ships is guaranteed, all the violence is portrayed by the boats, and Rogue’s crew tends to capture pirates instead of killing them. There are a few mentions of sea goddesses from battle and NPC dialogue. As Rogue and her crew are good pirates, I didn’t come across any swearing, surprisingly. (It is a pirate game after all, I expected at least a mild swear.) There is a lot of pirate jargon, as expected.

Like an old bucko, Pirate Code isn’t the cleanest game as there are quite a bit of stability issues. Alt-tabbing does not play well with the game, as it will sometimes take a while to return to the screen—or in very rare cases, the game will crash. Some missions also didn’t spawn one of my ships, which left me at a disadvantage as well. Saving, starting up a story battle, and returning to the main menu may also cause issues. If ye try to return to the file and start the mission, the screen will softlock, and the only way to cure this is to close the game. The same action also causes strange overlay issues in the game menus.

A pirate’s life isn’t for everyone. Sailing the seas is a dangerous task, and sometimes stressful to boot. Pirate Code may not be the most polished game on the market, nor is it the most stable. If ye can get past the rough beginning portion, there is a simple, yet at times addicting strategy game buried underneath. Twenty doubloons isn’t too bad of an asking price for something that can easily last 15+ hours, and worked on by only one buccaneer. The enemy fleet variety and amount of ships keep the battles engaging and exciting. Pirate Code is safe for kids to play, as well as a good product for casual players, but can also present a decent amount of challenge to veterans of the genre. With an active developer, Pirate Code is looking to be shipshape in the near future.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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